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U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy: Situation in Puerto Rico 'Worse Than I Thought'

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy took questions about the crisis in Puerto Rico at a community forum on the new federal tax bill Friday in Fairfield.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy took questions about the crisis in Puerto Rico at a community forum on the new federal tax bill Friday in Fairfield. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

FAIRFIELD, Conn. —More than 100 days after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said the territory remains “an island in crisis” with more than 50 percent of the population still without electricity.

Murphy, who traveled to Puerto Rico with Sen. Richard Blumenthal last week, said he could only imagine what would happen if such a situation was left to languish in Connecticut.

“There would be rioting in the streets,” he said Friday at an appearance in Fairfield.

Murphy said he and Blumenthal toured a neighborhood in San Juan, the island’s largest city, where many residents still had no potable water or electric power. The situation has left some facing dangerous mold growth in their homes, and others are unable to refrigerate vital medicine.

While Congress approved a $36.5 billion hurricane relief package for Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas in October, much of that funding has never reached the island.

Murphy said he believes the White House isn’t paying enough attention to the needs of residents, some of whom are taking refuge in Connecticut and other states, straining their resources.

Before its holiday break, the U.S. House approved an $81 billion emergency aid bill, but it stalled in the Senate.

Murphy has said he will continue to seek expanded funding for relief for Puerto Rico.

“I can’t imagine this is happening in the United States,” he said. "It was worse than I thought."

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